Well, that was super fun. NOT.
The Avs came out looking like a team with rubber legs and played against a really good New York Rangers team coming off of three days rest. We had one of our worst games, they had a great one. And the score reflects that exactly.
This is the part where I would usually break down game, talking about plays and saves and whatnot, but I don't feel like doing that tonight. And I don't think I have it in me tonight to be nearly as awesome as C6. So now I guess I'm just going to give you guys my gist of the game.
Yes, the Avs just played a hard game last night against a team that makes their opponents expend tons of energy. And yes, that game made it to overtime, further draining energy. But at no point in the first period did we look like the team that had won the prior four games in a row. Even tired and weary, the Avalanche never looked like they were playing as a team, but like a collection of skaters just kinda doing stuff. The Rangers just pounded poor Semyon Varlamov with pucks. They skated circles around us as we tried to find our legs. Their good play was able to capitalize on every mistake that we made, every bad bounce, and every slow stride.
The Rags outshot us 20-4 in the first period. Early on, I was trying to rationalizing the first goal against us. It was kind of a bad bounce off of Ryan O'Reilly, and it was just a tiny bit out of Hejda's reach. And Johnson really was just doing his best to pinch in and turn the tide of the game, even tho he and Hejda weren't able to get back to help Duchene on the 2-on-1. And Varly had already faced a bunch of shots, he was just doing his best.
The second one was similar. It was just bad luck that Guenin's pass got deflected off of Ryan Callahan's stick and right to Brad Richards, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. And Andre Benoit was trying his best to turn on a dime and poke that puck out of danger when he fell. And Duchene really did think that he had the puck on his stick when he stopped doggedly forechecking. And that it's easy to loose track of a dude standing right outside of the crease with all that madness going on.
Anyway, I could go on like this. Keep on making excuses. I do think that the Erik Johnson roughing call was kinda weak. And that goal that Anton Stralman made from the point did graze Duchene's leg ever so slightly, causing Varly to lose track of it. And yes, Radar's skate scored a goal tonight for the wrong team (altho maybe they would have ruled it a kicking motion if it had happened on the other end). But none of that really matters.
What matters is that the Avs looked tired and discombobulated, and the Rangers played with urgency and confidence, and when funny bounces happened, New York was able to capitalize on them because they were where they needed to be when they needed to be there. The Avalanche weren't.
A few notes about tonight's game:
Duchene, O'Reilly, and McGinn were a combined -15 on the night. All five goals against happened while they were out on the ice. And I don't think that they played as terribly as their numbers suggest. But they weren't hustling, and they didn't seem to be clicking like they normally do.
One of the things that started happening early on, when it started to become obvious to the team that they weren't skating together well, was that players started to try and do things on their own. Duchene, of course, does this kind of thing all the time. But without some support, getting mugged by three dudes doesn't help the team much. Mitchell tried to take all the Rangers several times, as did MacKinnon, and Johnson's attempt to do that was a contributor to the first goal. It's like they all panicked, and tried to force things to happen, and that only made things worse. I kept wanting to sit them down and make them breath for a minute to get under control.
Semyon Varlamov was the only reason this wasn't a Buffalo-type score. Even tho he let in 5 goals, two of them came unexpectedly off of our own guys, and he did face a total of 43 shots. I don't blame this on him in any way. It would have been nice if he had stood on his head and somehow won, but I'll let that one go tonight.
Stastny, Landeskog, and Mackinon played well, too. They all had points on the lone goal the Avs scored. Landeskog had the goal, five shots and four hits, which makes him the most effective Av skater on the ice. But I don't want to overlook MacKinnon's play tonight. He played the most defensively responsible game I have seen him play in the NHL, and it makes me smile thinking about the future.
Stupid Ryan Callahan and his stupid good play. Begrudgingness commences.
The Rangers really were very good tonight. They played like we often do, with surety and skill.
A day off to rest those wearly legs.
And then, after that, a trip to beautiful Philadelphia! Land of … brotherly love...? Yeah, I think that's right. The Flyers have won three of their last four, but they are 8-7-2 for the new year. Lets try to regroup a bit, shall we? Thanks, boys!
EDIT:: Oh yeah, there was totally a 1:50 of 5-on-3 PP that I was so upset about that I managed to block it out of my mind. The fact that they didn't score on that one, in fact, didn't look threatening until the last 10 seconds of it (Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass SHOOOT! Pass Pass Pass), was a signal to me that the game was lost, even tho it was only at the end of the the second. So that happened.